• Zhao Qian Paper, Light dot and Conch There is a romantic saying about the conch, “You can hear the ocean...

    Zhao Qian

    Paper, Light dot and Conch


    There is a romantic saying about the conch, “You can hear the ocean in a conch; different conch shells carry the sounds of different oceans. Indeed, when we put our ears close to a conch, we can hear a sound like the wind whistling across the sea. Scientifically speaking, it's simply the result of the effect of the shell's shape on the air trapped inside. Unable to escape, the air vibrates at frequencies dictated by the size of the shell, creating a mix with the surrounding sound. The different "ocean sounds" are due to the resonances caused by different inner cavities of conch shells.
    In the process of examining and comprehending the natural world, humans always have an urge to examine, record, discriminate, classify, name, imagine and project their imaginations onto the natural objects - humans understand and interpret everything in our surroundings in this way. There is a type of book called "field guides" that teach people how to identify similar-looking animals, plants, minerals, etc. through various subtle differences in the field environment.
    A Field Guide launched by artist Zhao Qian in 2014 is a long-term project focusing on human behaviour and the translation and narrative of images. Different from ordinary field guides, Zhao Qian's "Field Guide" does not try to make the complex world clear and discernible. Instead, he utilizes, manipulates and tampers with the traditional mechanisms of viewing, text, and images. Through the process of obfuscation, the artist questions the way we perceive the world that we take for granted.
    The completed chapters of the project, Off Cut, The Edge and Teeth Sketch Step By Step respectively discuss the narrative of fragmented images and the imaginative space constructed by images. This exhibition Paper, Light Dot and Conch is a summary and presentation of the latest chapter of the project, Zoo Mapping proposal. The exhibition will revolve around "Paper", the physical substance and its structure needed to carry photographic images; "Light", the optical and digital properties of photography; and the broader symbols and metaphors related to "Conch". The exhibition will discuss the language rules and pictorial rhetoric shaped by the three.
    In the exhibition, Zhao Qian collects some specific images (such as Animal Pictures), as well as works about abstract behaviours and concepts (such as The Great Migration, Discrete, etc.). He collected these ready-made online images from a wide range of sources, printed them on paper, and then ripped off limited image content. Then, the artist spread these fragmented fragments homogeneously like making a gravel road, layer by layer. In the last step, he scanned the fragments and printed them into a new camouflage-like photo. In the creative process, the images were processed physically and digitally (the object being photographed - the digital image - the printed and ripped photos - the scanned collection of fragmented images - the final photo). As this camouflage-like new image suggests, the original composition, scale, function, context, and even material characteristics of the original image are obscured, dismantled, and rendered indistinguishable; even after being “flattened” in the process of scanning and reprinting, the rough paper edges of the original images still indicate the material properties of the original images, and blatantly show the “violent” behaviour and independent manner of the artist while transforming the images.
    Perhaps as implied by the title Zoo Mapping proposal, our desire to photograph, possess, view, and disseminate images is in line with human actions such as capturing, captive breeding, and domesticating animals in zoos. However, in this infinitely complex and abundant world, will our approaches to probing its nature such as collecting, classifying and naming, turn out to be futile?
  • ARTIST: Zhao Qian Zhao Qian (born in Jiujiang, Jiangxi, in 1990) currently lives in China. He focuses on the circulating...

    ARTIST: Zhao Qian


    Zhao Qian (born in Jiujiang, Jiangxi, in 1990) currently lives in China. He focuses on the circulating animal images (especially pigs), the operation mechanism, behaviour and psychology of the game, and the translation function of images. He had solo exhibitions at the Lianzhou Museum of Photography (Lianzhou, China), Houston Center for Photography (Houston, USA), Filter Space (Chicago, USA), and Reminders Photography Stronghold Gallery (Tokyo, Japan). His work has been displayed in group exhibitions at UCCA Center for Contemporary Art (Beijing, China), K11 Art Foundation (Shenyang, China), China Academy of Art Museum (Hangzhou, China), A4 Art Museum (Chengdu, China), Zhejiang Art Museum (Hangzhou, China), Today Art Museum (Beijing, China), Rathfarnham Castle (Dublin, Ireland), Kala Art Institute (Berkeley, USA), French Pavilion (Zagreb, Croatia), Museum of Contemporary Art (Zagreb, Croatia), Ogden Museum of Southern Art (New Orleans, USA), etc. Zhao Qian has also shown in Format International Photography Festival (Derby, UK), Unseen Photo Fair (Amsterdam, Holland), Singapore International Photo Festival, Athens Photo Festival, Copenhagen Photo Festival, FOTOFESTIWAL - International Festival of Photography in Łódź, PHOTOFAIRS | Shanghai, Art Amoy Fair, Art Beijing Fair, etc.
    Zhao Qian was the recipient of the 2019 Annual Photography Fellowship Award by the Houston Center for Photography and was a finalist for the Huayu Youth Award 2020. He has joined artist residency programs in Swatch Art Peace Hotel, A4 Art Museum, Points Center for Contemporary Art, The Chinese University of Hong Kong Art Centre (Shenzhen, China), Vermont Studio Center, Kala Art Institute, and The Cow House Studio.
    Zhao Qian is the co-founder of the image art platform "Instance" and the image learning group "Play Under".
  • CURATOR: Shen Chen He is a curator living in Beijing and currently working at White Space. Previously, he was curator...

    CURATOR: Shen Chen


    He is a curator living in Beijing and currently working at White Space. Previously, he was curator at the Three Shadows Photography Art Centre and nominator for several awards, including the Jimei x Arles International Photo Festival, the Abigail Cohen Fellowship by Magnum Foundation, and the Vontobel sponsorship prize. He holds an MFA in photography from Cranbrook Academy of Art, Michigan; an M.S. in New Media from The Chinese University of Hong Kong, Hong Kong; and a B.A. in International Politics from Peking University, Beijing. His curatorial projects include: “On Methods – Solo-Exhibition by Candida Höfer” (2015), “Chinese Photography: Twentieth Century and Beyond” (2015), “Scripts of the Bodies” (2016), “Kassel Photobook Festival & Éditions Bessard | Beijing Special Exhibition” (2016), “Katarzyna Kozyra Solo Exhibition” (2016), “Profound Silence” (2017), “Valérie Belin: Méta-clichés”, “40 Years of Chinese Contemporary Photography (1976-2017)” (2017), “Phantom Pain Clinic” (2017), “Ten Directions: The 10th Anniversary of the Three Shadows Photography Award” (2018), “A White Space Odyssey” (2019), “Étude” (2020), “A Higher Calling” (2021), etc. In 2019, his curatorial project "Sunset on a Dead End - The Notorious and Their Inexplicable Modes of Existence" was recipient of the grand prize for the "Emerging Curators Project" of Power Station of Art.
  • Zhao Qian, Lizard and Turtle, 2020. Giclée Print, 120cm x 160cm. Courtesy of the artist.

  • Zhao Qian, Pic of Pig, 2021. Giclée Print, 40cm x 60cm. Courtesy of the artist.

  • Zhao Qian, Animal Headshot, 2022. Giclée Print, 60cm x 40cm. Courtesy of the artist.

  • Zhao Qian,  #12022. Giclée Print, dimensions variable. Courtesy of the artist.

  • Zhao Qian, The Cheap Ocean, 2020. Integrated media, dimensions variable. Courtesy of the artist.